- Audio CD
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (25 September 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1549145762
- ISBN-13: 978-1549145766
- Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 2.5 x 15.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 272 g
- Customer Reviews: 43 customer ratings
The War Outside Lib/E Audio CD – Audiobook, 25 September 2018
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Hesse draws Margot and Haruko realistically and sympathetically, bolstered by research into WWII internment camps, in a moving book that successfully describes an unjust aspect of US history.-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"
An extraordinary novel of injustice and xenophobia based on real history. The Crystal City camp actually existed, as did a few characters and situations portrayed in the novel. Hesse does a superb job of recreating life as it was lived by innocent people forced to exist surrounded by barbed wire fences and guards. In Haruko and Margot, she has written developed, multidimensional characters who live dramatically on the page.-- "Booklist (starred review)"
A superb historical fiction novel for YA collections. Hesse deftly balances actual events from Crystal City with a resonating fictional story of forbidden friendship and love....[and also] weaves an engaging mystery...A satisfying and bittersweet novel.-- "School Library Journal (starred review)"
About the Author
Monica Hesse, a journalist with the Washington Post, is the author of several acclaimed books. including Girl in the Blue Coat and American Fire.
Allison Hiroto is a voice talent and audiobook narrator.
Christie Moreau is a voice talent and audiobook narrator.
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Top international reviews
Texas was the site of Crystal City – an internment camp for “Enemy Aliens” during World War II. Crystal City was for those people of German, Japanese or Italian ancestry that the government believed might be spies. Haruku and Margot both accompanied fathers who were suspects. They lived on opposite sides of the camp but became friends – sort of. This story gives a glimpse into the reality of their lives and that of the others interned at Crystal City. They were American teenagers, but because someone in their family was suspect, they had been uprooted and sent to a hot, dusty, ill equipped prison. They were enemies to each other and to their country.
Hesse writes clearly of young people confused and conflicted and does it extremely well. Margot and Haruku live and breathe. They become friends - and enemies. They trust each other - and break that trust. We learn of their families – their love, their politics, their fears, their coping – and their NOT coping.
Engrossing, terrifying, moving, sweet and bittersweet – all these and more. Ultimately a story of betrayal and forgiveness, THE WAR OUTSIDE is thought provoking and well worth reading.
5 of 5 stars
Years later, I moved to Texas and was looking for a historical fiction CD to listen to and I found this one. I did not know that there was a camp in Crystal City, Texas. All the time that I was listening, I was comparing this to the ones in California camps. Later I found a lot of information about the Crystal City Camp and it rang true for this story.
I liked how author did show the level of suspicion rampant in the general population. Her research emphasized that at the end of the book and when you think about the total story, that is an underlying theme among the prisoners, the two girls, the guards and outside the camp. It is subtle but easy to find. It reminds me of what my mother said. People at his work called him a "commie" because he was not service during WWII. In fact, he tried to sign up but was told that he more valuable to the country at home! Please think about suspicion when reading or listening to this book.
The love story is interesting between Margot and Haruko because the two girls did not express it openly even to each other. The times must be considered. There has been much change since then. Wanting to have an apartment together was and their dreams of it was the dearest part of the book for me. I reminded me of two sweet women that I knew as a child. I knew that they loved each other very much but that was in the 1950's. But even they were effect and endangered by suspicion . I love the story. The only jarring thing for me was one the speakers on the audio had a definite "Valley girl" way of talking. It took me away for the story at times.
The story takes place at an internment camp in a Texas town called Crystal City.
(There were many such camps by the way; one was in a backwater town called Minidoka, near my own hometown in southern Idaho.)
The book, though fiction, adheres strongly to historical fact.
It is an excellent read, but what makes it particularly poignant is that it was written well before families were ripped apart at our border with Mexico.
If I had read the book before our current humanitarian crisis took place, it would have been eye-opening enough.
But reading it after the very recent internment of over 2300 South American children forcefully separated from their parents at the border, this story breaks my heart in new places, places that won't heal in the present system of things.
The book was hard to read, knowing for myself now that this type of injustice can occur anywhere anytime to those who have no recourse.
There are two separated groups within the internment camp in Crystal City, Texas. One is comprised of Japanese Americans, the other, much smaller, of German Americans.
Each community keeps to itself, but two teenagers cross the invisible line to form a close bond of friendship.
They are Margot and Haruko.
The story is told alternately from the point of view of each girl.
We know from the beginning that something dreadful happens along the way that causes an insurmountable breach between these friends.
In the German camp, there is a Nazi loyalist faction. As Margot sees her father resist the pressure to join, she becomes more and more afraid that out of his despair and isolation he will succumb.
There is a single project underway that both camps will freely enjoy access to, a large public swimming pool.
When at last the pool is finished, both camps have a formal celebration together. But this moment of camaraderie is ominously interrupted by a parade made up of the Nazi breakaway group from the German side.
The public swimming pool is a great success though, with both German and Japanese children enjoying relief from the Texas heat and an opportunity to become better acquainted.
Then a tragedy occurs at the pool that separates the two camps more emphatically than before, and outright enmity develops, with devastating consequences.
The close bond between Margot and Haruko is destroyed.
Categorized as YA historical fiction, “The War Outside" is an important read for adults as well as for teenagers.
It pierces deeply into the centers of love and betrayal, self-doubt and forgiveness.
The denouement of this heart-rending story is most unexpected, simultaneously hopeful and filled with despair.
Monica Hesse has done her homework in writing this account.
Although it is fiction, she composes her work as closely as possible to reflect real people, places and events.
The Note on Historical Accuracy at the end of the book is well worth reading.
Hesse's novel is well researched and she has included bits and pieces of life in Crystal City that are fascinating: a swimming pool for the residents, the tragic drowning of two young girls in the pool, schools for the children, time off for soldiers who are then allowed to visit their family at the camp, and even repatriation of prisoners to their homeland in exchange for American prisoners of war.
As the story unfolds their friendship is put to the test, and Hesse manages to create a situation that is believable and will leave readers thinking. I loved this novel: the setting, the characters and all the attention to the details of that time period all come together to make this book hard to put down.
Margot’s awkwardness and bookishness were endearing, as was her shame bout her father’s Nazi associations. Haruko’s pragmatism conflicted with her emotions, especially regarding her enlisted older brother. This was a great example of how hysteria and mistrust can affect two relatively ordinary girls just because of where their parents came from.
Narrated in alternating chapters by Haruko and Margot, "The War Outside" explores the effects of forced detention on families and those "guarding" the camps. Haruko's mother voluntarily chose to bring her two daughters to Crystal City to reunite the family; Haruko's father had been accused of providing information to the Japanese military. Margot, her father, a farmer from Iowa, and her mother were sent as a family to the camp. Rather than attending the German school which glorifies the Nazi regime, Margot chooses to attend the American school at the camp. An unlikely friendship develops between Margot and Haruko; there are hints of a physical attraction between the girls that is not acted upon. The conflict and the moral conundrums presented stem from their friendship. The final tragedy affects both young women, yet neither realizes the part each played in bringing about that event.
While Monica Hesse brings historic events and little known incidents to light I felt the characters in "The War Outside" lacked appeal. Neither girl fully developed into a compelling character; neither made me want to know them better. This was the same downside I felt "Girl in the Blue Coat" displayed and one that resulted in a loss of a star for that book. This novel is readable and of interest to those who are unfamiliar with the interment camp story. It is not one for those seeking a novel that draws the reader into the characters' lives, engendering empathy for their situation and remembering their names long after the final page has been read.
The things I didn't love about this book.....First, the story was good, but there were times it was all over the place. There were chapters where nothing would happen for 4-5 pages and then all of a sudden a very important plot point would come and go in a few paragraphs and the description wasn't good enough to understand what exactly had just happened without going back and reading it again. Additionally, I felt like this story was laced with a bit of a romantic undertone of an "almost" relationship between these girls....Now, I don't take issue with that, it's a real thing that a lot kids can relate to, however, it was like the author was trying hint around it for a good portion of the book and then at the end just dropped it and was like "never mind, they were just great friends".....If you're going to put that type of will they, won't they in there, commit to it and either make it part of the story or don't, but quite honestly, waiting and anticipating that type reveal and then not coming back to it one way or the other it at least a little bit was more of a distraction from the driving actions of the plot.
Overall, I wish this was a bit more polished b/c I wanted to love it, but the writing wasn't quite there, the plot was a bit rocky, and in the end it felt like an unfinished piece....
Margot and Haruko tell their point of view in alternating chapters so readers get a fuller view of them; their environment and the times in which they lived.
As with any prison, factions form within the groups. The German camp has some Nazi loyalist and the Japanese camp has some people who are loyal to Hirohito. A common swimming pool is installed in the camp and it brings the two sides together à la pipes of peace (Paul McCartney, 1983). The pool provides a brief interlude in the brutal environment in which the girls are forced to stay. The interlude was all too short lived when a Nazi faction gets involved. Sadly, the girls have a falling out. Family loyalties are involved. Can the girls reestablish their bond? Will they survive the camp?
The madness of the war taking place worldwide and the madness of internecine conflict within the ethnic groups in the camp, I was reminded of a passage from "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" where Dr. Fried, the secondary protagonist recalls treating a violent patient in Germany during the War and wondering how madness continued to flourish in the forms of atrocities committed during the war and the mental illness her clients grappled with.
Monica Hesse is a brilliant author and has thoroughly researched her subject. She teaches many readers about the Crystal City camp and the issues and events that made up the time frame in the story. This is a nonpareil historical fiction that hopefully will be used in classroom as well as book club discussion groups.
Thoughts: It took me awhile to feel a connection to the two main characters, and I felt frustrated because I couldn't get a clear picture of the camp in my mind. However, I soon became engrossed in the burgeoning friendship of Margot and Haruko, two very different girls who would likely never have talked to each other on the "outside" but who wind up discovering a kindred spirit in the other. Neither character was a stereotype, and their relationships with their family members were sensitively and complexly drawn. I wish that one character hadn't telegraphed what the tone of the rest of the book was going to be (for her sections) eighty pages before the book ended, but overall, I appreciated this novel with a unusual setting and atmosphere which gave me insight into this historical period of our country.
Although Haruko and Margot attend the same Crystal City High School, they don't really meet until a dust storm sweeps the camp and force the girls to hide out in the camp ice house until the storm passes. The two girls develop a quick friendship and a budding interest in one another.
Told from multiple narrator perspectives, we learn about how both families felt in the camp and some of the issues surrounding all those imprisoned. The xenophobia that landed them in the camps is spelled out even among the camp members and takes twists that readers just couldn't predict. While I found some of the story elements drag when developing the friendship, I was intrigued by the clash of cultures within the camp and how that was worked out.
I did like this novel and its different look at an internment camp, especially after learning of the research the author did in Crystal City to learn more about her setting for the story. I also thought the same-sex attraction portion of the story was done well--a part of the story, but not THE story. If you're interested in historical fiction that addresses the idea of government-sanctioned camps such as the internment camps, then this would be a good book to check out.